Tuesday, September 23, 2014

NEW REPORT Exposes Nuclear Power Agenda to Block Climate Action, Stop Renewables, and Subsidize Old Reactors

Today, NIRS published a report exposing the nuclear industry’s attempt to rescue itself through a renewed effort to stop renewable energy and climate action, subsidize old reactors, and prop up nuclear as an “offset” for fossil fuels. You can download the report here:
We were proud to be joined by Dr. Mark Cooper of the Institute for Energy and the Environment, Public Citizen, and several of our amazing grassroots partners on the front lines of this fight to stop the nuclear/fossil industry from stealing our carbon-free, nuclear-free, sustainable energy future.
No Nukes!
Tim Judson, Executive Director
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                    Contact:  Tim Judson, Exec. Director
September 11, 2014                                                                                                      (301) 270-6477         timj@nirs.org
Report details industry plans to subvert clean energy programs, rig energy markets and climate regulations to subsidize aging nuclear reactors
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Major utilities have hatched a plan to save nuclear power by blocking solar and wind power, and efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions with them, say environmentalists and consumer advocates. A coalition of five organizations was joined by a renowned energy economist to release a new report by Nuclear Information & Resource Service (NIRS) exposing the scheme. Titled “Killing the Competition: The Nuclear Power Agenda to Block Climate Action, Stop Renewable Energy, and Subsidize Old Reactors,” the report documents efforts by the country’s largest utilities and power generators to prop up old nuclear plants with new subsidies and electricity price hikes, while lobbying against programs to grow clean energy and efficiency.  
In February, the country’s largest nuclear plant owner, Exelon, committed to fund a high-priced public relations campaign—dubbed “Nuclear Matters”—to create fears of a national energy crisis if the country doesn’t rally to save nuclear power. If old nuclear plants go out of business, the campaign predicts, economic devastation, electric grid failures, and climate catastrophe will ensue. Exelon has now been joined by several of the largest utilities and power generators, such as Entergy, Duke, Southern, and FirstEnergy, who have mobilized their own lobbying machines, PR firms, and front groups to the cause. As owners of fossil fuel as well as nuclear plants, and with major carbon emission regulations on the way, the companies have decided to dig into their deep political coffers to save their old plants rather than adapt to new technologies and environmental rules.
“The public deserves to know what these companies are really up to,” said report author Tim Judson, Executive Director of NIRS. “Exelon and Nuclear Matters are running a deceptive campaign to scare the American people into accepting their scheme to save old nuclear plants, no matter how much it costs or what the collateral damage is. We uncovered a disturbing pattern,” continued Judson, “a scheme to undermine our most promising energy options and job-creating industries—and stick ratepayers with rising energy bills—all to keep polluting, uneconomical, increasingly dangerous power plants running,” Judson concluded.
Last year, the closure of several reactors highlighted the worsening economics of nuclear energy. Five reactor shutdowns were announced, and eight new reactors cancelled. The industry’s rising costs—with new plants too expensive to build and old plants more and more costly to maintain—came head to head with a brewing energy revolution: low natural gas prices, rising energy efficiency, and affordable wind and solar power. As a result, Wall Street firms reassessed the industry, discovering an industry at risk and predicting more shuttered reactors in the coming years. Energy economist Dr. Mark Cooper, of Vermont Law School’s Institute for Energy and the Environment, published a paper outlining the factors contributing to nuclear energy’s poor prospects and highlighting the vulnerability of dozens of reactors.
“Nuclear power simply cannot compete with efficiency and renewable resources and it does not fit in the emerging electricity system that uses intelligent management of supply and demand response to meet the need for electricity,” Cooper said.  “Doubling down on nuclear power as the solution to climate change, as proposed by nuclear advocates, is a bad bet since nuclear power is one of the most expensive ways available to cut carbon emissions in the electricity sector,” continued Cooper. “The nuclear war against clean energy is a last ditch effort to stop the transformation of the electricity sector and prevent nuclear power from becoming obsolete.”
NIRS’s report details the industry’s attacks on clean energy and climate solutions and the key battlegrounds in this new fight over the U.S.’s energy future. With large political war chests and armies of lobbyists, the power companies have opened up aggressive fights across the country this year:
·         Blocking tax breaks for renewable energy in Congress.
·         Killing renewable energy legislation in Illinois by threatening to close nuclear plants.
·         Passing a resolution calling for nuclear subsidies and emissions-trading schemes in Illinois.
·         Suspending renewable energy and efficiency standards in Ohio for two years.
·         Ending energy efficiency programs in Indiana.
·         Demanding above-market contracts for nuclear and coal plants in Ohio and NewYork.
One of the main frontlines is the Environmental Protection Agency’s new carbon pollution rule, which includes incentives for nuclear, and encourages several costly, counterproductive measures. The regulation includes subsidies of $50 million per year or more to keep uncompetitive reactors from closing, and authorizes states to set up programs for nuclear plants to sell emission allowances to coal and natural gas-fired plants.
"Under pressure from Exelon, the Illinois Legislature actually went so far as to pass a resolution petitioning the EPA to order Illinois to use nuclear plants to meet its pending carbon limits,” notes Dave Kraft, director of the Chicago-based Nuclear Energy Information Service. “To allow nuclear plants to sell or trade credits with fossil fuel plants defeats the very purpose of regulating emissions. This is not climate policy; it's political payback," Kraft believes. 
The companies are also seeking special energy market rules rigged to favor nuclear and coal as “baseload” generators. The report spells out a slew of the proposed reforms, the net effect of which would be to raise energy costs for consumers and make it more difficult for providers of wind energy and conservation programs to find customers. This would reverse the entire way energy markets are set up. Currently, markets are price-based and neutral on the type of energy source: the lowest-cost energy sells first, higher-cost generators are cut out when there is enough power. For instance, wind generators sell first because they have no fuel costs and can bid the lowest prices. Because inflexible baseload plants like nuclear and coal cannot cut their output when there is too much power, the industry complains they must pay the wind owners to turn their generators off. By rigging the markets to favor increasingly expensive nuclear and coal plants, the scheme would raise the cost to consumers while making it harder for cleaner, low-cost energy sources to compete.
“Just a few years ago, the industry had no complaints when some merchant nuclear plants earned 100% annual rates of return,” said Tyson Slocum, Energy Program Director atPublic Citizen. “But now that conditions have changed, they want a rewrite of market rules to guarantee payments to many of these same plants. Enough is enough: household consumers cannot continue to subsidize inefficient generators, especially when abundant, cleaner and safer alternatives abound.”
New York and Ohio residents have gotten a glimpse of how much it will cost to prop up uneconomical nuclear plants. Exelon submitted a petition to the New York Public Service Commission seeking a guaranteed contract for one of the country’s smallest and oldest reactors, the Ginna Nuclear Plant near Rochester. Just to meet the reactor’s operating costs, ratepayers would be hit with prices more than 40% above the going market rate—roughly $83 million/year. Similarly, FirstEnergy submitted a petition to the Ohio Public Utility Commission, seeking a contract for its troubled Davis-Besse reactor and three coal plants at an estimated price of $65 per megawatt-hour – nearly 70% above market rates. Environmental and consumer groups argue such costs are unwarranted, especially with more affordable clean energy alternatives.
“New Yorkers are rapidly adopting renewable energy, and the state’s policy makers are pushing distributed electricity generation and energy efficiency measures as a way to keep down costs and meet climate goal,”said Jessica Azulay, Program Director of the Alliance for a Green Economy in New York. “At a time of unprecedented momentum toward a smart, efficient, renewable energy system, the nuclear industry is trying its best to thwart the energy revolution and pull us back into the past with scare tactics and spin.”
The industry campaign was hatched after Entergy’s decision to close its Vermont Yankee reactor in August 2013. Despite having won a legal fight with the state of Vermont over the legislature’s decision the plant should close, Entergy found the costs of operating of the reactor were rising and the region’s grid operator had already decided the plant was no longer needed. With all the rest of its reactors in the Northeast in danger of closure due to economic pressure and licensing problems, the company began publishing opinion pieces and lobbying elected officials and market regulators for special treatment. Yet, the situation in Vermont belies the industry’s message that old reactors are “necessary” to protect consumers and workers, and prevent greenhouse emissions. Vermont already has plans to replace all of the plant’s electricity with low-cost carbon-free energy, expanded its renewable energy programs this year, and Entergy cut a deal to keep half the Vermont Yankee workforce employed in environmental cleanup and managing radioactive waste.
“Until the day Entergy announced Vermont Yankee's closure, it maintained that Vermont Yankee was a benefit to the state and economically viable,” said Deb Katz, Executive Diretor of Citizens Awareness Network in New England. “Upon closure, it acknowledged that it would lose over $200 million if VY continued to operate. In 2012 the state replaced Vermont Yankee with contracts at substantially lower rates and expanded its commitment to sustainable energy and efficiency.”
Contact the Presenters
Tim Judson                  (301) 270-6477                       tim@nirs.org
Jessica Azulay             (315) 480-1515                       Jessica@allianceforagreeneconomy.org
Dr. Mark Cooper                                                         markcooper@aol.com
Deb Katz                     (413) 339-5781                       deb@nukebusters.org 
Dave Kraft                   (773) 342-7650                       neis@neis.org
Tyson Slocum              (202) 454-5191                       tslocum@citizen.org

Availability and Distribution of Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement for Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel


The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has published final NUREG-2157, “Generic Environmental Impact Statement for Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel.”  NUREG-2157 addresses the environmental impacts of continued storage of spent nuclear fuel beyond the licensed life for operations of a commercial nuclear reactor and provides a regulatory basis for the NRC’s final rule, “Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel” (RIN 3150-AJ20; NRC-2012-0246).

NUREG-2157—in two volumes—is available in the NRC’s Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS):

·         NUREG-2157, Vol. 1 (Accession No. ML14196A105)  http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1419/ML14196A105.pdf

·         NUREG-2157, Vol. 2 (Accession No. ML14196A107)  http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1419/ML14196A107.pdf

For problems with ADAMS, please contact the NRC’s Public Document Room reference staff at 1-800-397-4209, at 301-415-4737, or by e-mail to pdr.resource@nrc.gov.

NUREG-2157 can also be accessed on the NRC’s website:  http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/nuregs/staff/.

After its publication in the Federal Register later this month, you will receive one last e-mail with a link to the final rule, “Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel.”  If you have any questions regarding NUREG-2157, or to request a hardcopy of the document, please contact Sarah Lopas.

Thank you,

Staff of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Waste Confidence Directorate

NRC Launches Special Inspection at Millstone 3 Nuclear Power Plant In Response to Continuing Problems with Pump

No: I-14-034                                                                     September 15, 2014
Diane Screnci 610-337-5330
Neil Sheehan 610-337-5331

NRC Launches Special Inspection at Millstone 3 Nuclear Power Plant In Response to Continuing Problems with Pump

Problems affecting a pump that is part of a reactor safety system will be the focus of a Nuclear Regulatory Commission Special Inspection at the Millstone Unit 3 nuclear power plant. The Waterford, Conn., plant is operated by Dominion Nuclear.

The Special Inspection team will have three members and will begin its work today (Sept. 15). The component of interest is the plant’s turbine-driven auxiliary, or back-up, feedwater pump. That pump is one of several that can be used to help cool down the reactor after a shutdown by pumping water into the secondary side of the plant’s steam generators. The steam generators are essentially large heat exchangers that convert heat generated by the reactor into steam, which in turn is used to spin the turbine and produce electricity.

The basis for this Special Inspection is the failure of the turbine-driven auxiliary feedwater pump to pass quarterly surveillance tests on July 15 and Sept. 10. During both tests, the pump started and then unexpectedly stopped. It then restarted without operator intervention and reached rated speed approximately 15 minutes later. The pump has since undergone repairs and been restored to service.

“A key objective of this inspection will be to learn more about this latest malfunctioning of this safety-related component,” NRC Region I Administrator Bill Dean said. “The repetitive problems affecting the pump continue to give the NRC concern.”

Areas to be reviewed during the Special Inspection will include the adequacy and completeness of testing on the pump and causal evaluations of the problems. The results of the Special Inspection will be discussed in a report expected to be issued within 45 days after the completion of the review.

The NRC conducted a Special Inspection earlier this year into what appear to be unrelated issues with the same pump. That inspection report was issued Aug. 28.

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Act 129 2015 Technical Reference Manual Update


At its Sept. 11, 2014 Public Meeting, the Commission adopted for public comment the proposed 2015 Technical Reference Manual (TRM).  Comments are due within 30 days of the entry date of the Tentative Order.  Reply comments are due within 40 days of the entry date of the Tentative Order.  These documents, as well as a redlined version of the manual, will be posted to the Technical Reference Manual page of the Commission’s website in the near future.  I have also included below links to the documents.  I should note that we are having technical difficulties making Appendix D, the Motor and Variable Frequency Drive Tool, publicly available.  We hope to have this resolved soon.  I will notify you when it is available.  I apologize for the delay.

2015 TRM Tentative Order
Proposed 2015 Technical Reference Manual
Proposed 2015 TRM Appendix C - Lighting Audit and Design Tool
Proposed 2015 TRM Appendix E - Lighting Audit and Design Tool for New Construction

Please contact me with any questions.


Megan G. Good
PA Public Utility Commission
Bureau of Technical Utility Services
Policy & Planning

Exelon Given “BBB+” Credit Rating by Morningstar (EXC)

September 9th, 2014 - 0 comments - Filed Under - by Nicole Kennedy

Exelon (NYSE:EXC) has earned a “BBB+” credit ratinghttp://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/icon1.png from Morningstar. The agency’s “BBB+” rating indicates that the company is a moderate default risk. They also issued a positive credit outlook for the company and gave their stock a four star rating.

A number of other analystshttp://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/icon1.png have also recently weighed in on EXC. Analysts at SunTrust raised their price target on shares of Exelon from $33.00 to $34.00 in a research note on Tuesday, August 26th. Separately, analysts at Tigress Financial initiated coverage on shares of Exelon in a research note on Friday, August 8th. They set a “neutral” rating on the stock. Four investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, seven have assigned a hold rating and seven have assigned a buy rating to the stock. Exelon currently has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $32.35.

Exelon (NYSE:EXC) opened at 33.44 on Tuesday. Exelon has a 52-week low of $26.45 and a 52-week high of $37.73. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $32.11 and its 200-day moving average is $33.69. The companyhttp://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/icon1.png has a market cap of $28.732 billion and a P/E ratio of 15.81. Exelon also was the target of a large decline in short interest in the month of August. As of August 15th, there was short interest totalling 82,565,730 shares, a decline of 3.5% from the July 31st total of 85,541,227 shares. Currently, 9.0% of the company’s shares are short sold. Based on an average trading volume of 6,670,687 shares, the short-interest ratio is presently 12.4 days.

Exelon (NYSE:EXC) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, July 31st. The company reported $0.51 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, meeting the consensus estimate of $0.51. The company had revenue of $6.02 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $5.64 billion. During the same quarter in the previous year, the company posted $0.53 earnings per share. The company’s revenue for the quarter was down 1.9% on a year-over-year basis. Analysts expect that Exelon will post $2.38 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which is scheduled for Wednesday, September 10th. Shareholders of record on Friday, August 15th will be paid a dividend of $0.31 per share. This represents a $1.24 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 3.71%. The ex-dividend date is Wednesday, August 13th.

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NRC Approves Power Uprate For Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station

No: 14-054                                                                           August 25, 2014
CONTACT: Scott Burnell, 301-415-8200

NRC Approves Power Uprate For Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved a request by Exelon Generation Co. to increase the generating capacity of Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, Units 2 and 3, by 12.4 percent each.

The NRC staff determined Exelon could safely increase the reactors’ output primarily by upgrading certain plant systems and components. NRC staff also reviewed Exelon’s evaluations showing the plant’s design can handle the increased power level.

The NRC’s safety evaluation of the plant’s proposed power uprate focused on several areas, such as the nuclear steam supply systems, instrumentation and control systems, electrical systems, accident evaluations, radiological consequences, operations and training, testing, and technical specification changes. For added confidence in the analysis, the NRC staff also conducted independent confirmatory calculations and audits of selected areas.

The power uprate authorizes Peach Bottom, located approximately 18 miles south of Lancaster, Pa., to increase each boiling water reactor’s generating capacity by approximately 140 megawatts electric. Exelon plans to implement Unit 2’s uprate during the fall 2014 refueling outage and Unit 3’s uprate during the fall 2015 refueling outage.

The NRC published a notice about the power uprate application in the Federal Register on April 9, 2013. The agency’s evaluation of the Peach Bottom uprate will be available through the NRC’s ADAMS electronic document database by entering Accession Number ML14133A046.

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Epstein Appeals Peach Bottom Uprate


ERIC JOSEPH EPSTEIN, Pro se                            :
                                           Appellant                      :            EHB DOCKET NO. _______ 
CORPORATION, LLC; EXELON                         :


AND NOW, comes Appellant Eric Joseph Epstein, Pro se , (“Appellant,” “Epstein,” or “Mr. Epstein,”) in this matter, and sets forth the following Notice of Appeal from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Approval of Water Quality Certification under Section 401 of the Federal Clean Water Act for the Extended Power Uprate for Exelon Generation Company, LLC’s Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station.

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